Mid-Season Awards: Highlighting the best Cleveland Cavaliers of the season

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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As the Cleveland Cavaliers enter the final stretch of the 2023-24 regular season, the team's determination and resilience have told their tale.

From the start of the season, Cleveland's reputation was on the line if they could not overcome their embarrassing first-round defeat postseason. While they still have plenty to prove in the playoffs, the Cavs have fought to the top of the East and set themselves up for a stronger postseason push. With a 36-17 record through 53 games, the last 29 contests will be critical for the Cavaliers to maintain their advantage for the playoffs.

The Cavaliers have not reached their current status through luck. When Evan Mobley and Darius Garland missed extended time due to injuries, Cleveland rallied to the league's best record over the six weeks and quickly reintegrated the young stars into a vastly altered offense. In December, the Cavs had every excuse to crumble and shy away from the criticisms they had faced all summer. Instead, the Cavaliers are embracing the underestimations from onlookers, putting themselves at the forefront of the entire Association as the playoffs draw near.

From top to bottom, the Cavaliers deserve appreciation for their resilient mindset this year. Before the regular season campaign concludes, let's take a moment to highlight six Cavs who have impacted winning in unique ways with mid-season awards.

Defensive Cav of the Year: Jarrett Allen

Since joining the Cavaliers in 2021, big man Jarrett Allen has established the Cavaliers a premier defensive threat across the league. This season, Allen has continued his role as the defensive anchor. Over his 48 games played, Frohio has recorded a D-LEBRON score of 1.67, per BBall-Index (subscription required). D-LEBRON measures a player's defensive impact with zero as the average.

While Evan Mobley has typically been a more versatile defender with greater overall impact, Allen's ability to bring the Cavaliers back from an average defense from the start of the year to the second-best defensive rating (110.3) has made him the most pivotal defender on the squad. Without Allen's leadership and communication on defense, the Cavaliers would have likely fallen to the bottom of the standings rather than climbing them.

The 25-year-old defensive phenom is averaging 1.2 blocks per game alongside 10.6 rebounds. Allen also set a franchise record in Mobley's absence with 16 consecutive double-doubles. Though Allen has been criticized for his timid and non-physical playstyle, this season has drastically altered that perception. Jarrett Allen has been unafraid in the post, absorbing contact on both defense by forcing missed shots and offense by leaping into defenders and dunking over them.

Other Cavaliers have been outstanding defenders alongside Allen and Mobley, namely Dean Wade and Isaac Okoro, but Allen's leadership and impact puts him on top as the best defender in the Land this season.